Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Speed of a Tractor


 It was just after 9pm last night when Keith called and asked if I could help him shuttle tractors and equipment back to our house from a field about 15 miles away.  All the boys were still gone on a trip with grandma for a few days, so I'd been racing around like a crazy lady, trying to get things done while I had time alone.  When the phone rang, I had just finished my mental list of things to do before bedtime, and it was looking like I had a few hours to go.  Now, because of that phone call, I would have to slow way down...to the speed of a tractor, in fact...and leave everything else for later.

The next thing I knew, it was 10pm and I was driving...windows down on a 70 degree night... behind the tractor and baler down the back roads.  Even at that hour, the glow of remaining sunshine coming from behind the distant mountains made the western sky look almost like a reverse rainbow.  Overhead was dark blue, and ahead of me it was light green, then yellow, finally fading into a glow of orange and red.  I drove along, eating fresh-picked blueberries from a bowl on the seat beside me.  As we passed houses and barns and pastures and wooded areas, the smells changed...each of them a reminder of this season I love so much.  Fresh cut grass and sweet things in bloom, mixed in with the heavy smell of cow manure. I'd say you have to acquire an appreciation for that last one. :)  There was just enough distance between my car and the tractor ahead of me that I could hear other tractors in the distance, crickets everywhere, and a few kids laughing from their yards.

By the time we got home, that reverse rainbow was gone; above me, the sky  had gotten darker and was now filled with stars.  I realized if I'd been driving at my normal speed, or if I'd never left the house in the first place, I would've missed all those things...the sounds, the smells, and the scenery at that time of night.  It's rare for me to sit long enough to appreciate things like that, and suddenly I was glad I had gotten the phone call.  I was glad I had slowed down to drive the speed of a tractor.

Today I was following Keith again; this time down a short stretch of road, when a man in a green minivan raced up behind me.  Within moments, he was throwing his hands in the air...swerving around and irritated by being slowed down.  When he couldn't take it anymore, he passed us, veering so far to the left of the road that he was half into the ditch....dust and rocks flying as he crashed through low branches along the way.  My guess is it would have done that man some good to slow down and drive at a tractor pace for awhile.

I suppose there are some good things to be learned from last night.  First, it's amazing how God blesses us in unexpected ways when we say yes to helping someone out.  It never fails that putting the needs of another before our own brings goodness to us along the way.  Also, have you stopped to notice the landscape in the place you call home?  Beauty is everywhere.  The world we live in is just the most remarkable creation, no matter where you are.  And yes, the tractor.  The thing that made me slow down.  The next time you're driving on a country road and you come upon a tractor, don't pass it...poke along for a bit.  Slow down, and enjoy life at that speed for just a little while. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

This Really Is My Life...

It's 11:00pm on a warm July night...the time of year when the clock doesn't tell us it's the end of another day; the day ends when work is done.  Way out in a pasture, the headlights of the swather bob up and down as it moves along, over the bumpy ground...its shape in the moonlight like a giant grasshopper.  I hear the chugging of the motor, faint as it goes over the hillside, cutting the grass that will soon become hay.  The smell is strong and sweet, even from the back porch.  I wonder to myself when Ranch Boss will be done, and when he'll wake up in the morning and start over once again. 

The barn lights are still on, waiting for the truck full of boys and trailer load of hay to return home from a field where we baled earlier today.  Just a few hours ago, I learned that my help wasn't needed...there were enough boys to stack bales, and Carson could handle the driving.  Oh that's right...I almost forgot...he's 7, so my driving services are no longer necessary.  I headed to the kitchen to bake some brownies and get food for tomorrow started.

It's funny how things creep up on you. 

When we were married, Keith dreamed of moving to Montana and becoming a rancher.  I half dreamed, and half wondered if it would ever happen.  Mixed in with my wondering was a little bit of  "hope not", because I love this part of the world that we call home.

But here we are, almost 17 years as husband and wife, and that ranching dream turned real while I wasn't paying attention.  This past weekend, we were talking to a woman in the Denver airport.  She grew up on a ranch in Texas, and out of nowhere, the words, 
"we're first generation farmers" slipped out of my mouth.  
Wait. We are?
That's right. We are.  
I feel like I have to talk myself into that statement, since I don't really believe it.  Keith has been working toward it all these years, and while I've been cooking meals, paying bills, watching boys grow...and wondering how so much hay and dirt could end up inside one house... it happened.  Last week, Keith asked if I thought we needed a new car or new tractor first.  I nearly can't believe I suggested that a new tractor makes more sense. 
Things have certainly changed.

Now it's 11:30pm, and I can hear the truck and trailer 
coming down the road.  
Soon the washing machine will be working hard 
to wash off the dirt from today.  
Soon the bedrooms will be full of sleeping boys.
And soon the sun will rise and the work will begin again.   

Yes, this is real.  
This really is my life.  
And while I continue to rub my eyes in disbelief, 
I'll be thankful that it's mine.